November 23, 2010

from PreventDisease Website

Spanish version


Stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders and know that you are the creator of your own destiny.

Swami Vivekananda

The tides of globalization and rapid change are producing a new class of people - confident, creative, tech-savvy and ferociously upwardly mobile.


Even so, it is worth examining how many people believe deep in their hearts that they are indeed the makers of their own destiny, and how many even aspire to that type of independence.

The experience of most people is a mix of contradictory impulses. The pull of a mixture traditions in cultures that have continuity stretching back millennia is no small force and this, naturally, exerts considerable influence on the thinking of many young people. Much of this remains unconscious even though many of us imagine we are making life choices of our own accord rather than merely conforming to long-established patterns.


In reality, how free an individual's choices are is correlated with how awake the individual is and the depth of the spiritual context within which the individual is living his life.

It is only through developing awareness and self-knowledge that we can begin to freely determine our own destiny. This becomes pointedly relevant when we consider our emotional, psychological and spiritual readiness to live in a world where the defining life condition is one of accelerating change.


Are we prepared to respond to new challenges and cooperate with others when our survival and evolution depend on it?

Without self-knowledge and sensitivity to the times we are living in, we may find ourselves unable to ride the crest of the wave that is carrying us into the future, or take advantage of the opportunity that is now presenting itself for us to become conscious agents of creating the kind of future that we actually want.

The European Renaissance (15th-16th centuries) was a seminal time in the history of human development. It was followed by the scientific and industrial revolutions and the rise of modernity. Some critics say that this emergence was not necessarily a step to higher development.


After all, there is much to criticize in modernity and the exaltation of the individual that it is accompanied by. But what these critics often miss is that individuation is in fact a further development of human interiority - separation from the tribe creates inner space within the individual in which self-awareness can grow.


It is only on such an interior basis that the human being can truly become a free, creative actor in the world and craft his own life in a way that adds value to the whole.

While individuation can be accompanied by a loss of communal values, paradoxically, it is only the truly individuated human who can freely come together and cooperate with other people to create a new culture that can address contemporary life conditions.

It is this step of individuation that most modern Indians still struggle with. This is understandable when people live in two worlds. In order to navigate the confusion that this might create, we have to embrace an evolutionary perspective that can both explain why we are the way we are, and also help illuminate our next step.


To move forward we first have to be clear about who we are, by exploring our cultural background and its history. It is only our own passionate, independent interest that can provide the spiritual fuel to penetrate through all the unexamined ideas we cling to.

The world desperately needs conscious, free individuals who can work together.


Those of us who have the privilege of education - which means everyone reading this article - have to take the,

"whole responsibility on to our own shoulders".

If not us, who will?